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JOSEPH N. BELL

Short List of Outrages Goes a Long Way to Easing Frustrations

March 25, 1989|JOSEPH N. BELL

I commented recently on the disappearance of individual outrage in our society and the corollary emergence of passivity about excesses that should be driving us up the wall.

Then I offered a very personal outrage list. If one word could catch the nature of the mail that column evoked, it would be "frustration."

Two letters were typical. Bill Dunlap wrote: "I'm not passive, but I am frustrated, and I just don't know what to do about it." And T.T. Nix wrote: "Yes, I'm outraged, but how does an individual make his views known?"

The ballot box leaves voters feeling helpless since they often don't like any of the choices they are given. And even in places where the individual voice can still be heard, it is being drowned out by single-issue pressure groups. The frustration is real, and I don't have any easy answers.

There is a certain amount of catharsis in airing those frustrations, so write and tell me some of the things that are outraging you. Periodically, I'll gather them into a column. Maybe we can develop our own collective voice, made up of Orange County residents without a forum.

So, to water the ground a bit, here is a new outrage list of my own that I hope may inspire you:

Our blind acceptance of the premise that police should be allowed to investigate themselves. Maybe all the shootings of mostly unarmed citizens in Orange County have been justifiable, but I'd feel a lot more comfortable about it if the investigations were conducted by outside bodies with perhaps a little more objectivity.

The disintegration of what was once the nation's finest freeway system, largely because for almost 2 decades, neither the administration nor the state legislators in Sacramento have had either the foresight or the guts to raise one of the lowest state gasoline taxes in the United States.

People in service industries who simply, flatly and frequently discourteously refuse to schedule a service call at a time convenient--or even possible--for a customer. A 2-hour time bracket doesn't seem unreasonable when the alternative is a wage earner spending half a day or longer waiting at home. Any service company in Orange County could get an instant leg up on its competition by making firm appointments--and then keeping them.

Our inability to let fools have a platform and hang themselves with their own rhetoric. Case in point: the people who call themselves the Institute for Historical Review. Their line is that the holocaust never happened, and the way we fought them when they sought a meeting place in Orange County would indicate that we have something to fear from the airing of this belief. If that's true, we're in more trouble than I thought.

The way in which the passing years and multiple court actions and dozens of proposed solutions have let the culprits in the contamination of the McColl dump site slip quietly out of view. I think it is important to give them the recognition they deserve. Although they now like to be known by the innocuous title of the McColl Site Group, they have company names too. The companies identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as most likely to have been responsible for the wastes are: Shell Oil Co., Phillips Petroleum, Texaco, Arco and Unocal.

The legacy of Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann. Under the guise of hard-headed economic reform--and packaged for the voters in what appeared to be a tax saving--they put the state of California into moral, social and now economic hock for years to come with their Proposition 13 and several subsequent flimflam schemes almost as destructive.

Next time, let's talk about your outrages--even if that means sticking it to a wrong-headed newspaper columnist.

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